Automating account access solves many schools’ IT problems
Thursday, February 04, 2016
Administrative technology in education is constantly evolving and changing. These improvements, as in any industry, are meant to better meet the needs of users.
The difference in education is much of the technology employed throughout the organization is used by teachers and students who are engaged in the learning process, unlike in other sectors where the technology is designed to enhance business solutions or meant to deliver a sale.
Often, though, administrative technologies become difficult for the IT department to manage across the district, with services usually spread across multiple campus locations and even virtual Web-based education settings. Without being able to efficiently and securely manage new technology, it becomes a burden for senior technology leaders and actually takes away time the IT department could use to improve the learning and users experience.
New technology in education
What have been some of these more recent popular technology developments? One major change used across most districts has been bring your own device (BYOD), or students using a variety of different devices in the classroom. A majority of classrooms now allow students the ability to either bring their own laptop or tablet, or they lend the students these devices to use.
While this can be extremely beneficial for students, this also means district leadership needs a way to efficiently manage and keep track of all of these different devices. If the device is brought in by a student, it needs to be registered in the network and meet certain guidelines for security reasons. If the district is lending users devices, they need to ensure these are kept track of and have the correct resources the student needs.
Overall, it drastically increases the amount of work the IT department needs to do for students and teachers to use the devices.
Another development is students working more frequently outside of the classroom on projects and homework by accessing the school's cloud applications. No matter what the grade level, homework and projects require students to use more technology.
Many projects now require students to use devices from home and access the school's resources through the many systems and applications the schools offer. This means students need access from anywhere at any time and regularly submit their work via these applications.
One of the most frequent issues is students (anyone, really) forgetting their passwords. With the help desk no longer available after school hours, they are not able to reset their forgotten password if needed, leaving them unable to access resources they need.
Another issue is students need access to and accounts created in each of their cloud applications they need. All of this takes time from the IT department and also causes a great deal of calls to the help desk about any issues that users are having.
When IT departments realize they need to implement a solution
The number one reason IT decision-makers decide they need to implement some type of identity and access management (IAM) solution is when they are receiving an overwhelming amount of calls to their help desk and are no longer able to efficiently and securely handle the management of educational technology. This, in turn, leads to student and teachers not receiving the most benefits from the technology that is being used.
When these issues start to become a hindrance to the IT department, a solution is needed to help out.
To assist with the management of mobile devices, an IAM solution can be used. A mobile IAM solution will allow admins the ability to easily add the new devices students bring, by simply adding them in the active directory.
If desired, they can also allow end users the ability to register the devices themselves. End users simply fill out a Web form set up for a workflow request, which will then be automatically sent to the appropriate manager or department for approval.
Once the organization decides which devices it is going to support, this can be set up in their mobile IAM solution. When a user then tries to register a device, only those the district supports will be able to be registered. This allows users to easily register all devices without spending a ton of time doing so.
If the device is owned by the district, it also can be managed by an IAM solution to easily set up any accounts the student needs. Auto-provisioning allows the IT department to quickly create accounts for the student for the new device.
The device can also be easily kept track of in the user's profile. A reminder is set so when the user graduates or no longer need access to a system, the IT department or other authority gets a notification so it can be ensured the device is returned.
To assist with the management of cloud applications, a standard automated account management solution also can be utilized. In the same vein as in-house applications, an IAM solution can automate the account-provisioning process. When a new students join the district and are entered into the student information system, all applications they need can automatically be provisioned, including any cloud applications needed.
Lastly, one of the other issues associated with students using the district's cloud applications from home is the password issues they experience, which prevent them from being able to complete their work. A simple self-service password reset solution can be used to resolve this issue.
This type of solution does just what it sounds like. It allows end users to easily and securely reset their own passwords after correctly answering several security questions without needing to contact the IT department. This ensures that students are able to access the resources they need at any time.
While newer technology in schools can drastically help create organizational and user efficiencies (and improve learning), it's important that the IT components don't interfere with the benefits. When the management of this newer technology starts to become time-consuming and a hindrancee, it is time to implement a solution.
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